How to Talk to Your Son About Pornography

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How to Talk to Your Son about Pornography

Pornography is a powerful threat to our sons. It skews their view of sex, love, women, and relationships. Obviously when we were younger access to graphic sexual images were not as easy to come by as they are today. A magazine belonging to friend’s dad or a movie on late-night cable TV was our most common exposure. Even in those seemingly more innocent days, there were things I saw at a friend’s house at an early age that were confusing. Quite frankly, they were damaging. It felt wrong but,  fearing I’d get in trouble, I never told my dad what I had seen. I wish I had. With a palpable feeling of guilt, I was left on my own to try and figure it out. My dad didn’t have porn in our house; so naturally, he assumed I hadn’t been exposed to it. Things are so different now. Having the Internet on so many devices inside and outside the house means the barbarians are perpetually at the gate.

We can be more vigilant and protective about what they see. However, we can sadly assume that our sons will be exposed to it at some point. Maybe the silver lining in that assumption is that they will not be left alone in processing it. The best way to fight it is to prepare them for pornography — expose the ugly reality of it and it’s many dangers. It may be difficult, but here are 3 points on how to talk to your son about pornography.

A momentary thrill leading to dissatisfaction, emptiness, and addiction.

An explicit image is stimulating and causes a scientifically proven chemical release in the brain. That is why we are drawn to it like the ring in Lord of the Rings. However when the viewing is over, we are left empty, unsatisfied, and full of guilt. Our conscience is telling us that something wrong has taken place. Sex is not wrong. Sex outside of the right context is wrong or, at the very least, not what it was made to be. The quickest way to deal with those feelings is to try and get another thrill but, when we return to porn, it gives a diminishing return of enjoyment. In the end, we need more to experience less, resulting in addiction and chains. In other words, it is a road to an addictive prison cell. Don’t be enticed down this road; choose the path that is life-giving.

Living in isolated fantasy versus connected reality.

A full life is found in relationships and shared experiences. Those things are built in reality, not fantasy. Porn is about entering a fantasy world. The more time we spend in that world, the more we become isolated. In essence, our soul becomes intertwined with something that isn’t real. There’s no connection, just loneliness exacerbated by guilt. When we fill our lives with nothing, we are left with nothing. Porn doesn’t provide anything, it takes everything. [Tweet This] Strong men of character are ones that are firmly founded in reality and relationships. Live in the real world.

An example of diminished one dimensional sex.

One of the biggest and most dangerous of all lies is that porn stars know how to have the best sex. Great sex is experienced when two people know one another in emotional and physical intimacy. True intimacy and knowledge of one another comes in commitment. When women know we are committed, we create an environment where they feel safe to share their whole self with us. It’s a multidimensional connection, like a high wattage of electricity. Porn turns sex into mere physical acts. It is one dimensional sex and will always fall short of what it could be. In fact, it even falls short physically. We are all uniquely made. Personalities and bodies respond differently. Sex for a committed couple that continues to grow closer in love and knowledge of one another will continually get more passionate. It’s like becoming an expert at playing an instrument. A guitar is held and played much differently than a violin. The best sex is between a committed couple who have learned well how each other desires to be loved. Glorified actors who are actually deeply degraded and hurting people will never be able to come close to sex that good.

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What Every Middle Schooler Wants Their Parents to Know

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When our firstborn went into sixth grade I taught at-risk students at his school. I knew his teachers, the principal was an ally, I was aware of all the trouble spots, and Andrew had permission to come to my room if he needed help. Even with all that advocacy, middle school was a difficult time.

Negotiating hallways between classes, growing pains, awkwardness, discovering the opposite sex, new responsibilities, changing bodies and so much more. Middle school is one of the inevitable dreaded experiences of growing up. Then it comes around again via our own middle school kids, and suddenly we’ve forgotten everything we once knew.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the more we know the better equipped we are to help this is what every middle schooler wants their parents to know.

I’m still your little boy/girl.

Your child is experiencing the confusion of the no man’s land between kiddo and the grown up world. They may not say it quite this way, but your middle schooler wants you to know that they are still vulnerable, that they still need you, and that this recent growth spurt didn’t do anything to change the fact that they still need to be tucked in at night once in a while.

I want you to ask me questions.

For all the bravado, your middle schooler is desperate for your guidance. Your middle schooler wants to tell you what is going on during their day. They may just grunt when you ask, but while they’re grunting and rolling their eyes they’re hoping you ask another question, and they’re hoping you won’t give up.

I’m desperate for encouragement.

Your child is super self-conscious, not very self-confident, and very much looking for a sense of belonging. Consequently, by the time they’re well established in middle school your kids are beginning to believe every teacher and parent has it in for them. Please try to include at least a half-dozen positive affirmations for every negative, “no,” or reprimand you throw their way.

Bullying is real and I want it to stop.

A lot of teachers routinely look the other way because they just don’t want to be bothered. It’s important to know that bullying isn’t just shoving in the hallway, but racism, sexism (sexual harassment is already happening in middle school), hurtful remarks, snide comments, vandalism of personal property, intimidation, and obvious exclusion. But you won’t know what’s happening if you don’t ask, and the teacher can’t be an ally if they don’t know what concerns you. Your child seriously wants to sense your protective presence in some way. Your middle schoolers need to know you take this problem seriously.

I’d like to see you at school more often.

Believe it or not, your middle schooler needs to be aware of your presence, they miss you during the day, and they want to see the evidence that you’re involved. Your child not only thinks you are cool but is proud of you too. Middle schoolers love seeing you on campus, dad, and they want you to know their friends. It’s a simple matter of giving them a level of security they may not admit to but absolutely need.

Three Ways to Help High Schoolers Relate to God

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7 Notes You Should Write to Your Children

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has shared with me about how he wrote many letters to his daughter in college, but she never said anything to him about it when they spoke on the phone or when they saw each other. He wondered if she ever even read them. One day when Jim was visiting her in her dorm room, he saw all of the letters he had written to her opened and proudly posted on her bulletin board!

Your children may not express their enthusiasm about your notes or even acknowledge getting them, but know that writing notes to them will impact their lives and always be remembered. Over the years, I’ve made it a practice to write notes to each of my children. I’d like to share the kinds of notes I’ve written and then show you how you can write those notes to your children as well. If you don’t feel like you’re the writing type or don’t know what to say, I’m going to try to give you some ideas and specific things you can say in your notes. Some of these notes you’ll write one time; others will be notes you’ll want to write on an ongoing basis when you can.

Here are the 7 notes you should write to your children:

1. Love note.

This is a note where you express your unconditional love to your children for who they are and validate their wonderful gifts. You can read what I wrote to my children in my How to Win Your Child’s Heart blog post.

2. Lunch box note.

Another way to uplift our children is to slip them a note in their lunchbox. My wife, Susan, and I found that just simply letting them know we’re thinking of them will encourage them through the day. Not sure of what to write? How about, “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “Have a great day,” or “Hope your test goes well.” You can even surprise them with a “Let’s go for ice cream after school” note. I’ve got some free, downloadable lunchbox notes for kids and teens you can use to get started.

3. Post-It note.

You can write little notes to your kids on yellow sticky notes and put them on their mirror, dresser, notebook or anywhere you want. Like lunchbox notes, these post-its are just quick words of encouragement to your kids. You might just say something like, “Way to go. An A in math! Awesome!” or “That was so nice that you encouraged your brother when he was down.” You can check out my How to Love your Family with Sticky Notes blog to see how we do it in our home.

4. Pillow Talk note.

As our children were growing up, Susan began to feel as if all communication with them was becoming instructional or disciplinary. So one time, she grabbed a spiral notebook, wrote a note to one of our daughters praising her for a nice thing she did for her sister and put it on her pillow. To my wife’s surprise, my daughter wrote back and placed the journal on her pillow. As a result, Susan developed the Pillow Talk journal so parents, like you, can write short notes of encouragement to their kids when they desire.

5. Forgiveness note.

Every parent makes mistakes in child-rearing. And every parent should ask their child to forgive them for those mistakes.  Sometimes a verbal, “I was wrong, would you please forgive me?” is appropriate. Other times, a written letter to your child is the way to go. Write to Right a Wrong.

6. Blessing note.

There is something inside every child that makes that child crave a good word from his or her parents. [Tweet This] When we bless our child, we are placing our “seal of approval” upon them and giving them power to prosper in many areas of life, including marriage, children, finances, health, and career. In addition to writing a note of blessing, you can also have a blessing ceremony.

7. College and career note.

Another thing I’ve done for my children is to memorialize, in writing, the most important things I tried to instill in them as they were growing up. Three of our five children are now in college or working.  Before they left our nest, there were four things that Susan and I taught them and always want them to remember. Here are the four things I penned to each of them.

Parenting in the Middle School Years – D6 Podcast

D6 is a great organization that helps families connect church and home.  One of their recent podcasts shared some great insight on parenting in the middle school years.  Click here to take a listen.

Nine Things Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

Nine Things Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

Phase Maps – “It’s Just a Phase”

At our last Parent Network event Kristen Ivey shared with us a few “Phase Maps” that will help us as parents navigate our kids through a few key areas of life.  Click below to download the maps for Authentic Faith, Sexual Integrity and Technological Responsibility.

Authentic Faith Phase Map

Sexual Integrity Phase Map

Technological Responsibility Phase Map